John Lindt

John Lindt 

Corcoran has joined Hanford, Coalinga and Woodlake in looking to attract large marijuana commercial growing facilities that could boost these towns’ economies.

At its June 13 meeting the Corcoran City Council heard there was interest by commercial cannabis growers in industrial sites in Corcoran.

That includes Sacramento-based Genezen, whose spokesperson asked the council if the city would consider enacting an ordinance to allow indoor commercial cultivation. By a 4-0 vote, one member absent, the council suggested they wanted more discussion about the idea.

Corcoran City Manager Kindon Meik says at its June 27 session the council had a discussion about its options under Prop 64 for local regulation, coming to the conclusion they wanted to look at allowing commercial cultivation but not approve local dispensaries that sell pot.

Meik says the city has now been approached by multiple companies including some of the same firms that are working with the city of Hanford wanting to locate industrial-size facilities to take advantage of the new law allowing sale of marijuana. The city has not ruled out either recreational or medical-use commercial operations.

Meik says while they are moving forward they are “not in a hurry” despite a January 1, 2018, date when such operations can start doing business in the state. "We do not need to meet a specific deadline” although they aim to have a policy in place this year, he adds. Meik says the city is likely to hire a consultant to help understand options.

Meik says one company may not wait to tie-up property adding he understands they are making a bid on a vacant 80,000-square-foot building in town that sits on 20 acres, the former Seward Luggage space at 1200 Orange Ave. in Corcoran, a property served by rail. The city has over 320 acres of industrial land zoned.

While cities can't ban the indoor cultivation of pot, they can enact “reasonable regulation” says a recent League of California Cities report discussed by the council. Cities have the choice of allowing both recreational and/or medical marijuana growing facilities among other options. The issue is "complex" says the article with different rules for medical use and recreational growing.

In some communities there has been opposition to any such operations while others, including property owners who have been sitting on long-vacant property, are understandably proponents of boosting activity from a new start-up industry that is sweeping both California and other states.

Less expensive land is the lure for companies eying the Central Valley for locations, but they still need the cooperation of municipalities willing to work with the industry.

In Woodlake, a property owner is funding a consultant-led city study to look into the idea. Woodlake is considering putting a cannabis tax measure on the November 2017 ballot. Bruce Kopitar who owns US Tower in Woodlake, is backing the $30,000 study under the name Woodlake Holdings LLC. Kopitar is listed as the agent for the LLC. The Woodlake City Council meets next on July 10.

In Corcoran, Meik says a public hearing on the cannabis idea is expected later but not until the city comes up with a firmer plan.

Property owners aren't alone in wanting in on competition for real estate. Companies like Genezen appear to be eager for more competition on potential sites as well and are not hesitant to help fund the effort.

Genezen recently paid the city of Hanford $50,000 to help offset the cost of creating a new ordinance that would allow for medical cannabis industrial businesses, it was reported. The company is said to be looking at property last used for cotton storage in town - 48 clustered warehouses totaling 1.6 million square feet.

This week the Hanford City Council is set to vote on a proposed medical marijuana growing ordinance that would include allowance of up to three cannabis campuses in the industrial area. Residents would get their chance to vote on a special tax on that business in November of next year.

But other jurisdictions like Kings County itself, have no interest in going down this road despite stories they hear that this is a cash cow for government that can be well regulated. The LA Times recently reported estimates that the now legal pot business will become a $5 billion industry in the future. Critics fear the effect of widespread pot availability on our youth.

Cheaper gas prices this holiday

GasBuddy says this week's July 4 holiday gas prices are the lowest in 12 years - the cheapest gas since 2005. The app helps drivers find the lowest gas price in the area.

This year, among the lowest prices in California are gas stations along the I-5 hub in Buttonwillow, selling regular for $2.39. But a few miles up the road in Kettleman City, there are no bargains with the least expensive price listed at $3.54.

Hanford’s best deal this week has been $2.47 at Tri-Mart and $2.49 at Costco, typically the low-price leader since it has opened.

Peach prices up with Georgia disaster

Georgia lost 85 percent of its peach crop this season after a warmer-than-expected winter and a two-day freeze in March say media reports. Meanwhile our Valley’s peach crop is helping to supply the shortfall with an abundant crop. California grows more peaches than the other 32 peach-growing states combined. In Kings County peaches are a $32 million crop.

Peach prices are up about 25 percent over last year, so far this summer. In the past decade the peach crop, nationwide, has dropped in volume significantly, but that has had the effect of boosting prices for farmers still growing the juicy fruit.

John Lindt is an independent business reporter. He can be reached at sierra2thesea@gmail.com

Load comments